|4:38 PM PT5:38 PM MT6:38 PM CT7:38 PM ET19:38 ET23:38 GMT7:38 4:38 PM MST6:38 PM EST7:08 PM VEN3:38 UAE (+1)6:38 PM CT, October 8, 2017
Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York Attendance: 48,614
Yankees facing elimination as Indians go for sweep
NEW YORK -- The Cleveland Indians are one win away from extending their defense of the American League pennant even further. The New York Yankees are one loss away from a surprising season ending with a disappointing finish.
The Indians get their first chance at eliminating the Yankees on Sunday night in Game 3 of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium.
Should the Indians complete the sweep, they will meet the Houston Astros or Boston Red Sox in the ALCS. The Astros hold a 2-0 lead and are attempting to close out the series at Fenway Park on Sunday afternoon.
If the Yankees can extend the series, Game 4 would occur Monday in New York, and if they can force a fifth game, the finale would take place Wednesday in Cleveland.
If New York is unable to win, it would be a frustrating finish to a 91-win regular season fueled by the emergences of young players Luis Severino, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.
"We know they're really good," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We knew that going in, they're really good. The way I look at it, you have to win one in a row."
The Indians are one win away from their sixth appearance in the ALCS after winning twice at home in significantly different ways. Cleveland opened the series with a 4-0 win on Thursday and followed by with 9-8 win on that was decided on Yan Gomes' in the 13th off Dellin Betances.
The Indians recorded their largest postseason comeback by rallying from a five-run deficit in a game the Yankees will be haunted by due to some questionable decisions from manager Joe Girardi, who Saturday admitted he screwed up by not challenging Cleveland's Lonnie Chisenhall getting hit by a pitch.
"I believe our team will be ready to go tomorrow," Girardi said Saturday. "And that's who this team is. Obviously, we checked the temperature of our players last night. Obviously, I take responsibility for everything, and I feel horrible about it."
Girardi pulled CC Sabathia at 77 pitches with a five-run lead in the sixth and replaced him with Chad Green. Green was one pitch away from keeping the lead but Chisenhall reached when plate umpire Dan Iaasogna ruled he was hit by a pitch.
Girardi opted not to challenge even though catcher Sanchez urged him to do so. Two pitches later, it was a one-run game on a grand slam by Francisco Lindor.
Because of those moments, the Indians are one win away from eliminating the Yankees in the postseason for the third time in four meetings. The Indians won Game 5 at home in the 1997 ALDS after the Yankees took a 2-1 lead and then won Game 4 in New York 10 years later in Joe Torre's final game managing the Yankees.
"It's hard to win," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. "That wouldn't take away from how I feel about our guys. Yesterday's game, win or lose, I mean, I was so -- I think I said this after the game. I was so honored to go through that game with our guys, because it was fun, through the ups and downs. "
The Indians may be without designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion, who exited in the first inning Friday with a sprained right ankle on a play at second base. Francona said Encarnacion was doing better Saturday and wouldn't need to be removed from the roster.
Encarnacion suffered ligament damage and won't be in the starting lineup Sunday, but Francona said he could be available.
After using eight relievers to get to the verge of a sweep, Cleveland will start Carlos Carrasco, who missed last year's run to the World Series with a hand injury and is making his postseason debut.
"I think it's a big difference," Carrasco said. "Last year, my team went to the postseason, the World Series, so I was with them last year, but I couldn't pitch because of my injury to my hand. But now I'm available to enjoy my team this year. I think this is going to be my first time, and I just want to enjoy it.
Carrasco was 18-6 with a 3.29 ERA in 32 starts. He was tied for the team lead with ace Corey Kluber in wins and pitched a career-high 200 innings.
Carrasco was especially strong in road games, going 11-2 with a 2.65 ERA in 17 starts. He also was 6-0 with a 0.85 ERA in his last six starts (seven earned runs, 49 2/3 innings.
One of the right-hander's losses occurred against the Yankees, when he allowed five runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings. He is 4-5 with a 4.12 ERA in 11 appearances (nine starts) against the Yankees. Carrasco also is 3-1 with a 1.40 ERA in four career outings in New York.
The Yankees will start Masahiro Tanaka, who is coming off an inconsistent season that saw him display flashes of brilliance at times.
Tanaka finished his fourth season with the Yankees by going 13-12 with a 4.74 ERA. He ended it with an electrifying 15-strikeout showing in seven innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sept. 29.
"We need him pitch like he pitched the other day where I think he had 15 strikeouts in the game," Girardi said. "This is a team that's going to grind out at-bats and he needs to grind out at-bats with them."
The right-hander was 7-8 with a 5.47 ERA in his first 18 starts and 6-4 with a 3.77 ERA in his last 12 outings.
Tanaka did not face the Indians during the regular season and is 1-2 with a 4.63 ERA in four starts against Cleveland.
The Yankees could also use some distance from Tanaka based on how their bullpen has been employed so far. After getting 26 outs in Tuesday's wild-card game, New York relievers have pitched a combined 12 1/3 innings.
While Green, Robertson and Aroldis Chapman may be available, Betances might not. He threw 35 pitches in two innings Friday after pitching the eighth inning Thursday.
Updated October 8, 2017